Virtually 100 animals, together with 28 lifeless animals and animal physique elements, have been seized from the Pure Bridge Zoo in Virginia after they have been allegedly discovered residing in “filthy” habitats.
The Virginia State Police executed a search warrant, obtained by WDBJ7, on the zoo on Wednesday amid accusations of animal cruelty.
The warrant mentioned that the animals have been held in poor situations and soiled environments, and have been missing meals and water.
In complete, 95 animals have been seized from the zoo, together with 16 capuchins, 14 tortoises, 5 lemurs, and two Burmese pythons.
Different animals taken below the warrant embody tamarins, gibbons, sacred ibis, floor hornbills, kookaburras, macaws, patrons, cockatoos, serval, ball pythons, red-eared slider, a turtle, a skink, donkeys, sheep, llamas and a canine.
A lot of lifeless animals and animal physique elements have been additionally discovered on the zoo, together with legs, a head, the pores and skin, tails and frozen baggage of faeces, all from giraffes. The legs of a zebra and the top of a mandrill have been additionally situated.
Officers additionally seized the physique of a euthanised white Bengal tiger which the Lawyer Basic’s Workplace mentioned was put down with the proprietor’s consent to “humanely finish its struggling”, in keeping with WSET.
Gretchen Mogensen, a consultant for Pure Bridge Zoo, informed WSLS that the vet was already “dealing” with the tiger, named Zeus, and his well being earlier than he was euthanised.
“I stroked his head, and I kissed his nostril and held his paws whereas he took the final breath that he’ll ever have,” Ms Mogensen mentioned in tears.
“Whereas the cat might have had points and was sick, our vet was coping with it, and we had a really robust report of what was occurring.”
Alligators, a canine, a lemur and a llama have been additionally among the many 28 lifeless animals allegedly seized, though it’s unclear how they died.
The search warrant specified that paperwork, information and digital gadgets linked to the animals’ well-being and the zoo as a enterprise have been additionally taken by police.
In response to the AG’s workplace, the homeowners of Pure Bridge Zoo had “deserted, cruelly handled or uncared for” the animals “in such a situation as to represent a direct and instant menace to its life, security or well being”.
The search warrant was issued after a confidential informant who labored on the zoo informed police they’d witnessed merciless behaviour on the facility, in keeping with WDBJ7.
The informant claimed that keepers would use a bullhook (a pole with a metallic hook and tip) to manage the animals and would “at all times” jab them the place “bone is near flesh… Make it depend,” the warrant states.
The informant additionally alleged that an elephant named Asha was left shackled and residing in her personal waste, whereas she additionally needed to carry a whole lot of visitors on elephant rides briefly spans of time, the outlet mentioned.
The proprietor’s legal professional, Mario Williams, mentioned they have been blindsided by the search and needed to know the reasoning behind police intervention within the privately owned zoo.
“We’re going to problem the legal prices, one after the other, present us the place the neglect was; you bought to point out us all these things. You already know, you simply can’t run round saying stuff. And with none proof actually,” Mr Willams informed WDBJ7 on Wednesday.
He added that the homeowners plan to undergo the appeals courtroom to reclaim their seized animals – and can probably be litigating this case for years.
Ms Mogensen claimed to WSLS that the authorities have been attempting to “paint us within the worst mild doable” after they turned up on the park on Wednesday morning earlier than any of the keepers might begin their morning routines for the animals.
She added that she is sad with how the officers handled taking the animals and is worried with how the seized animals might be cared for.
Ms Mogensen mentioned that some animals have been left behind within the zoo, elevating questions as to why some have been taken and a few weren’t.
Ms Mogensen didn’t point out the lifeless animals or the animal physique elements throughout the interview with native information.
It’s unclear the place the seized animals have been taken.
The homeowners are anticipated to seem earlier than a listening to on 20 December amid the investigation.
The Unbiased has contacted Pure Bridge Zoo and Virginia State Police for remark.
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